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Three men and a 17-year-old have gone on trial accused of “grooming” and exploiting vulnerable under-age girls.

 

Three men and a 17-year-old have gone on trial accused of “grooming” and exploiting vulnerable under-age girls.

Threats and free taxi rides were used by the group to sexually exploit the teenage girls it was alleged at Teesside Crown Court.

One 14-year-old girl left her home in the early hours – wearing just her pyjamas and slippers – believing 32-year-old Shakil Munir was taking her to buy cigarettes, prosecutor Christopher Mr Knox said.

But it is alleged that Munir, a taxi driver at the time who had previously given her free lifts to school and had befriended her on the social media site Facebook, instead drove her to a lay-by on the A19 for unprotected sex.

Opening the case yesterday Mr Knox said the case involved seven young girls – one aged just 13 – who were “preyed on” by the “loosely connected group of young men”, who he said were mainly around three or four years older than the girls.

He said that the vulnerable girls “in some shape or form have been groomed by men and sometimes passed from one to another”.

And he added: “This is not girlfriend or boyfriend relationship this is an exploitative relationship.”

It is alleged that one victim was “cajoled or blackmailed” into sexual activity by threats that her boyfriend would be told what she had been doing.

The victims were often befriended on Facebook or contacted through Blackberry BBM, with discussions turning sexual Mr Knox said.

He added the defendants knew the girls were under 16.

Judge John Walford told the jury of 10 women and two men that the allegations before them are the sort that “tend to arise emotions”.

He added that comparisons may be drawn with other cases where other sexual allegations have been made, which have prompted debate but urged them to “decide the case on the evidence and only the evidence”.

Munir, of Tollesby Road, Middlesbrough, faces four charges of sexual activity with a child and one of abducting a child.

Ibrar Mahmood, 18, of Breckon Hill Road, Middlesbrough, faces four charges of sexual activity with a child and three counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Junaid Butt, 18, of Kensington Road, Middlesbrough, faces a charge of sexual activity with a child and one of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence. A 17-year-old boy, who can’t be named for legal reasons, faces three charges of arranging or facilitating commission of a child sex offence.

They all deny the charges.

:: Proceeding

See on www.gazettelive.co.uk

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